NBC, CNN, NY Times Seek to Stop Trump Rally Based on Covid Concerns — After Supporting Weeks of Nationwide Protests
Should Americans resume their normal lives or hunker down until the risk of contracting Covid-19 has mostly evaporated? Some media outlets have had a hard time answering that question in the wake of widespread protests — which many reporters viewed favorably — and a rally by President Donald Trump scheduled for June 19.
“’Extraordinarily dangerous’: Trump rally draws grave concerns from top health officials,” NBC News warned in a June 14 headline, citing medical officials suggesting people might be safer if they stay home.
Less than four hours later, NBC presented a much different message about those who were congregating to protest police brutality, with a story headlined, “Rally for Black trans lives draws packed crowd to Brooklyn Museum plaza.”
The number of references to “coronavirus” in the second story — which ran 818 words? Zero.
The New York Times is similarly warning that catastrophe might ensure if Trump moves forward with his rally. “Trump Rally Is the ‘Perfect Storm Setup,’ for Viral Spread,” a June 14 Times headline warned.
Ten days earlier, another Times headline — indexed on Google — promised to show readers “How protests have made the city feel like New York again.” (At the time of this writing, the headline was more neutral-sounding: “How a city besieged by the virus turned out to be heard.”)
CNN did even more than its peers to tamp down concerns over the spread of the coronavirus at protests across the country with a June 5 story telling Americans not to worry about it, headlined, “Over 1,000 health professionals sign a letter saying, Don’t shut down protests using coronavirus concerns as an excuse.”
Ten days later, CNN had evidently seen the light, warning readers that a single rally could cause a “spike” in viral infections: “Tulsa health director wishes Trump would postpone rally because of spike in Covid-19 cases.”
Unfortunately, that change of heart came late for many Americans. More than 20 states saw an increase in average daily new cases of coronavirus infections last week, including the state of Florida, where new infections reached record highs for three consecutive days between Thursday and Saturday.
To date, few outlets have gone on record with reporting to reflect how protests fed the surge in new cases. What explains such blatantly one-sided reporting?
“The journalism industry culture has steadily moved away from any sense of fair and impartial reportage,” DePauw University Professor Jeff McCall told Mediaite. ‘Media crusaderism has taken hold. News outlets now predetermine a cultural or political direction they want to serve and then craft narratives and stories to fit that thrust.”
“Doing this would be fine if coverage were properly labeled as opinion and commentary, but the presentation of what was once considered ‘news’ is now littered with subjectivity,” he added. “Left-leaning and self-righteous mainstream editors and producers think they have a corner on wisdom and have to push public sentiment in the ‘proper’ direction.”
The hypocrisy, of course, extends beyond the media. Fox News’ Judge Andrew Napolitano called New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to task on Monday for threatening to roll back his state’s reopening after seeing images of residents drinking in the street.
“Where was he when thousands of people were marching in the street over the death of George Floyd?” Napolitano said. “He wasn’t threatening to shut down the city then, but now he’s threatening the city because a bunch of kids sat a little too close to each other at a table at a restaurant.”
Do journalists have any level of responsibility to engage in greater introspection or honest analysis than New York’s Democratic governor? Maybe so, but McCall said many media executives would rather see their publications die than engage in impartial reporting.
“In a sense, the journalism world is burning down its own house to try to make ideological statements,” McCall said. “I think this only stops at the point at which media executives figure out that this is not a winning formula for the bottom line and for the nation’s socio-political health. But I don’t think that is likely to happen any time soon and the journalistic chaos we are witnessing will get worse before it gets better.
“Media executives today are willing to kill the industry to push their personal political agendas,” he added.
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